Is an MBA worth it?

Darden - Saunders Hall


A recent upworthy-esque headline – not an advertisement – caught my attention: An MBA for less than $1,000. To put this in perspective, the cost of a top full-time MBA program is over $100,000 for tuition alone. Deciding whether getting the same curriculum for 1% of the price is a good deal or not doesn’t require a master’s degree to answer, let alone a GED.

An MBA is not only expensive, it’s tough to get in to a top school. The top tier accepts less than 20% of applicants and GMAT scores for the accepted hover at 700 and above.

Why would you even want an MBA? If that’s what you’re thinking, here are a few articles that will support your suspicions:

The problem? None of the writers of those articles have earned an MBA. This reminds me of all the experts who claimed the iPad would fail — before ever using the product.

Prospective students need to understand that a full-time business school experience consists of four major factors that all have bearing on your future:

  • Academics. Some schools including UVA/Darden are more academically rigorous than others, providing a solid core to think through any issue.
  • Networking. Schools like Harvard and Wharton will help you develop connections with a global student body with big future ambitions, but a regionally focused school like Texas or Emory will help you build a focused local network.
  • Recruiting. Schools like Columbia and NYU have great access to major corporations, while others like Yale offer specialized focus.
  • Personal life. Divorce is a common occurence for students during and after school. Some students take the opportunity to party like they’re undergrads again or ski/golf every day possible.

The relative weight of each factor depends on what you want to get out of your business school experience that will help facilitate what you want to do next, tempered by opportunity cost. A virtual MBA for under $1,000 might be the right fit for you. Or maybe an Ivy League degree for $100,000+ is the perfect match. Perhaps a $17 copy of The Ten-Day MBA is actually the right option.

Your best choice depends on what you want to gain and where you want to go. Beware of biased advice along the way.



[Full disclosure: I earned my MBA from University of Virginia/Darden ranked #4, #11, #12, or #27, depending on which publication you prefer.]

Leave a comment

Comment now or forever hold your peas

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Being: Peter Kim